Walgreens Drone Delivery Officially Takes Flight

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Walgreens Drone Delivery Officially Takes Flight

10/24/2019
Walgreens drone delivery

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is officially in flight with a pilot of on-demand drone deliveries in Virginia.

The drugstore chain launched its trial of "store to door" deliveries of health and wellness, food and beverage and convenience items via drones in Christianburg, Va., on Oct. 18. The first drone delivery was made to residents Michael and Kelly Collver, who received a cough and cold pack including Tylenol, Halls cough drops, tissues, Emergen-C and bottled water, according to Convenience Store News sister publication Chain Store Age.

Walgreens is conducting the pilot in partnership with Wing Aviation, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet. Its launch makes Walgreens the first retailer to offer on-demand drone delivery service in the U.S. The companies are running the test in conjunction with FedEx in Christiansburg.

In April 2019, Wing received certification as a small airline from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing the company to charge money to perform actual drone-based deliveries to consumers.

Eligible FedEx Express customers who live within designated delivery zones in Christiansburg, and who opt in to the Wing delivery service, can receive select packages via delivery drone. Prescription deliveries are not available in the pilot.

Christiansburg was selected as the test market because Wing has been working closely with nearby Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Integration Pilot Program since 2016.

Although currently a pilot in one market, Walgreens stated that it is in a unique position to capitalize on the convenience of drone delivery if and when it should expand, with approximately 78 percent of the U.S. population living within five miles of a Walgreens-owned store, as Convenience Store News previously reported.

"Today is a great day for the future of consumer convenience. We are excited to be the first U.S. retailer to provide on-demand drone delivery to customers in the Christiansburg community," said Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. "This industry-first drone delivery pilot with Wing expands our omnichannel offerings to provide customers the products they need wherever, whenever and however they may want them."

Deerfield-based Walgreens is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. It operates 9,560 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Convenience Store News and Chain Store Age are properties of EnsembleIQ.